Nampa teachers union wins contract dispute lawsuit

Nampa teachers union wins contract dispute lawsuit

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by Kim Fields

Bio | Email | Follow: @KimFieldsKTVB

KTVB.COM

Posted on August 19, 2013 at 11:10 PM

Updated Tuesday, Aug 20 at 12:10 PM

NAMPA -- School starts Tuesday for students in Nampa.  However, there is big news Monday concerning some Nampa teachers.

District Judge Molly Huskey ruled in favor of the Nampa Education Association and their lawsuit against the Nampa School District.

The Nampa School District wanted teachers to take as many as four furlough days to help make up a multi-million dollar budget shortfall. Teachers were asked to sign addendum contracts in the middle of the 2012 - 2013 school year as a means to agree to the furloughed days. 

However, Judge Huskey ruled the addendum contracts Nampa teachers signed last school year are now void and illegal.

"It reaffirms the rule of law. It's good to see the courts uphold the rule of law," said Paul Stark, General Counsel for Idaho Education Association.

The 18-page ruling says the contracts are illegal because they were not approved by the State School Superintendent's office. The contracts were also deemed illegal because the district negotiated with teachers individually, not with the teachers union. 

"If you're going to change the terms and conditions  of teachers employment in Idaho, there's a process for that under the law," said Stark.

Stark calls the ruling a win for collective bargaining and a win for teachers not only in Nampa, but across the state.

"Our hope is that it never happens again in Nampa and certainly we hope it never happens again throughout the state. And this decision will help ensure that," said Stark.

The ruling does not immediately affect negotiations currently taking place over furloughed days for the 2013 - 2014 school year in Nampa.

However, it doesn't a precedent when it comes to negotiating and bargaining teacher contracts.

The ruling clearly states school districts cannot legally negotiate directly with teachers, something the state teacher's union does not want to see happen in Nampa or anywhere statewide.

"The victory is very important here," said Stark.

The Nampa Education Association did not ask for any relief in their lawsuit. However, the teachers union could ask the district to compensate its teaches for those furloughed days. The judge's ruling left the door open for that option.
  
The Nampa School District could appeal. That option is open, too.

The Nampa School District responded to the ruling with this statement:

"We were disappointed in the ruling. Our sole intent last December was to find a way to accommodate those individual teachers who came forward wanting to volunteer for furlough days to help with the district's financial crisis.  It was an extremely difficult and trying time and we are glad it's behind us so we can focus on restoring financial stability and improving student achievement."
 

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